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Tactica Infantry Squads

Submitted By: Lt. Colonel Nightblade Date: February 28, 2006, 03:23:01 PM Views: 6218

Infantry squads form the backbone of the standard IG infantry army.  In my mind they are the most important unit in your force; the Guard wins and loses by the performance of the infantry squads.  The majority of your men are part of infantry squads, and it is with infantry squads that you will take a good part of your special and heavy weapons.  In this guide I'll give my views about infantry squads and their use.  Note that this is not a surefire manual to victory, and my opinions are not fact or law.  However, I hope that this guide will help you to improve your game.

Note:  This is a guide primarily for a standard shooty IG army.  This guide does not really apply to other IG styles, although I give them some mention.  However, I think it's still worth reading, even if you don't play shooty IG.

Let's look at the various options available to the infantry squad:

Sergeant Equipment:

CCW/Laspistol, Shotgun, or Lasgun?  The CCW/Laspistol and the Shotgun are both assault-minded configurations, with the former giving you more strikes in combat and the latter being a short-ranged assault weapon.  While these options could be useful if you intend to assault, close combat is not the Guard's strength.  For this reason I prefer the lasgun.

Heavy Weapon:

Definitely take heavy weapons in your infantry squads.  The Imperial Guard wins not just be sheer number of troops, but also by the number of heavy weapons we can bring to bear on the opponent.  So it's always wise to take heavy weapons in your squads.  The only time I wouldn't take a heavy weapon is if you want a squad to be mobile, for the purposes of capturing objectives or mobile fire support.

Missile Launcher:

The missile launcher is primarily an anti-tank weapon.  While you can fire the frag missile, the small blast template isn't really that great and you'll probably only hit 1-2 models.  As an antitank weapon the missile launcher is not bad, combining a decent strength with a low points cost.  However, I think that for infantry squads, lascannons are better.  I like to save Missile Launchers for Command Squads, where they can do damage without attracting too much attention.


This is the best anti-tank heavy weapon you can take.  While lascannons can be incorporated into your army in many ways, such as in heavy weapon squads, command squads, and sentinels, the infantry squad is the best place to put them.  This is because you have 9 squad members acting as meatshields for your lascannon.  While some may argue that putting lascannons in infantry squads is too big a waste of lasgun shots, I feel it's best to keep them as safe as possible.  Do be careful of taking too many lascannons, however.  Remember that they are only really good against tanks, so don't go overboard.  (The exception is if you're playing mechanized IG; in that case you want just about all your infantry squads to have lascannons).


I like the autocannon; it's a great transport buster.  With the decent number of shots you get on it, you're likely to hit your target, and the autocannon's strength is good for handling those pesky AV 10 and 11 vehicles.  Autocannons are also decent against heavier infantry, although I see it primarily as a transport-busting weapon.  Take a few of these in your infantry squads.


I say don't bother with the mortar.  I've never had a lot of success with them.  They can actually be pretty effective against lightly-armored opponents, and their ability to pin can be quite useful, provided you can force a pinning check.  However, if you're going to take mortars, do not take them in infantry squads!  Take them in heavy weapon squads instead, where you may hit more than 1-2 enemy models.  Mortars are the kind of heavy weapon that work best in concentration (much like sniper rifles).

Heavy Bolter:  

An excellent infantry-killer.  The HB can tear just about anything without a 3+ or better save to shreds, and even against space marines they can be pretty effective.  They can also be used to take out things with AV 10 or 11 such as Sentinals or Landspeeders.  However, watch out for its short range!  I like to have several in my army, although not as many as I have lascannons.  It's okay to take a few in your infantry squads, but I prefer to take them in heavy weapons squads.  The main weakness of the heavy weapons squad, which is its vulnerability, is negated somewhat when you take a squad of 3 heavy bolters.  This is because I find that my opponents tend to ignore them, focusing on harder-hitting targets.  However, they are a viable choice for infantry squads.

Special Weapon:

Definitely take a special weapon in each squad.  As with heavy weapons, the Imperial Guard can bring a huge amount of special weapons to bear on our opponents, so it's best to take lots of them.


Don't bother with them.  In a standard shooty IG army, your infantry squads will probably never get close enough to your opponent's heavy tanks to shoot the meltagun, much less get the bonus penetration.  And when you're using meltaguns to take out puny infantry instead of AV 14 tanks, it's a waste of a meltagun.  In other IG styles (light infantry and drop troops come to mind) meltaguns are more viable in infantry squads, but in a standard IG army don't take them.

Plasma Gun:

I like the plasma gun; it allows your infantry squad to go after tough targets which lasguns aren't that great at killing, like Necrons and Terminators.  With high strength and low AP it packs a hard punch to just about anything.  You can even use them to take shots at transports and light vehicles.  The overheating is a downside, but I don't think it's bad enough to rule out taking them.  I like to put plasma guns in squads with lascannons; this is because both weapons can penetrate 2+ saves, and they both can be used against all but the toughest vehicles.

Grenade Launcher:

The grenade launcher is another great special weapon to take.  It's got a pretty high strength and pretty good AP, while having a good range and being an assault weapon.  This weapon is perfect for squads that you want to keep mobile.  It's also good when paired with autocannons, as they both are good at popping light vehicles.  However, don't bother with the frag grenade, as you'll probably only hit a single model with the blast template and with its low strength, you probably won't hurt what you hit.  Stick with the krak grenade.


Like the meltagun, the flamer suffers from short range.  While flamers can be effective in mobile support squads, I find the range to be too much of a limitation to take them in infantry squads.      They're best saved for hardened vets and command squads, where you can take multiple flamers and either infiltrate close to the enemy or use them for countercharge.


I don't think the vox-network is really worth the points you spend.  I you can keep your infantry squads in range of your officers' command bubbles, you usually don't need them, and if leadership is a real problem I find that taking veteran sergeants is more cost-effective.  I'd consider taking them in forces where your squads will likely be pretty spread out, such as a drop troops force, but for a standard IG army you probably won't need them.


Don't bother.  Your troops should not be assaulting.  They are so poor at assaulting that frag grenades won't make much of a difference; you'll still probably get butchered.  Krak grenades aren't even that good at taking out tanks, and at the cost you pay for them they are definitely not worth it.

Veteran Sergeant:

These guys can be useful for providing an extra leadership boost to your squads if officers aren't getting the job done.  I don't use them much, but if leadership is a problem for you go ahead and take them.  If you do consider taking bolters for your veteran sergeants if you have extra points, as they're cheap and can boost the effectiveness of your firepower.


There's a whole article dealing with these by PaxImperator, so I won't go into remnants here.

Now that we've looked at the upgrades you can get for infantry squads, I'll look at a few roles and configurations that I like to use.


Lascannon and Plasma Gun.  This squad's purpose is to kill enemy tanks (surprise, surprise).  Ideally the squad is suited for taking out really heavy tanks, but you can also turn them on lighter tanks such as transports if you need to keep them from reaching your lines.  They can also perform decently against very heavily-armoured infantry.

Autocannon and Grenade Launcher.  Use them to stop pesky transports from hitting your lines (No way!).  Once the transports are busted/reach your lines, turn these squads onto enemy infantry.  Don't be afraid to move them if you have to (to claim an objective for instance) because with the grenade launcher, they'll still have some decent firepower on the move.

Objective Claimers:
Grenade Launcher.  These guys take objectives (bet you didn't see that one coming!).  I sometimes use one or two of these squads, and hang back until the end of the game when objectives need to be taken.  This is a good squad if your army needs mobility; however, there are other ways to get mobility into your army, like Rough Riders and Armoured Fist squads.

Some tips on using infantry squads:

TAKE LOTS OF THEM!  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Infantry squads should make up the bulk of your army.  Don't get distracted by fancy units like storm troopers or Sentinels; they have their place, but ultimately it is your infantry squads that wins games.

Make sure to separate your infantry squads when you deploy.  Keep a good 4" or more between each of your squads.  This ensures that when your opponent reaches your lines (which is almost inevitable) and tears through one of your squads, they can't consolidate into another one.  This means that in your turn, you get another round of shooting at them.

At the same time, don't over-spread your infantry squads.  While it's tempting and impressive-looking to stretch your battle-line across the width of the table, it's best to have them concentrated.  If your infantry is too spread out, your opponent can concentrate on one part of your line while the other half has to awkwardly move before it can support the one half, decreasing your firepower.  If you keep your forces close together you can unleash the full brunt of your firepower on your opponent.

Try to keep your infantry squads within your officers' leadership bubbles.  Remember that you do not have to use the officer's leadership, so if you want your squad to break, don't use it!  However, when you need your squads to hold, officers are invaluable.  This goes hand in hand with the above point, as if you keep your squads concentrated they should be within range of an officer

Cover is nice.  It can add a lot to the survivability of your infantry squads.  However, keep in mind that it's more important to have good line of sight and firing lanes than to be in cover.  Only put your infantry squads in cover when it does not hamper their shooting ability.  Keep in mind that it is only necessary to have the majority of your squad in cover for the whole squad to receive a cover save.

Remember, infantry squads are expendable.  You should have a lot of them, so don't be afraid to use them as speed bumps and screens.

Never underestimate the power of lasguns.  In massed numbers, they can be very, very effective. Don't count on them being ultimate weapons or wiping out whole squads of space marines, but massed lasgun fire is nothing to be laughed at (and every once in a while you do get to wipe out whole squads of space marines!)

Some thoughts from PaxImperator:

"You should have a very good reason for giving an infantry squad anything but a heavy weapon and a special weapon. Infantry squads benefit from being cheap and having no unnecessary toys to distract you from the task you want them to perform. The number of infantry squads you have makes specialization within individual infantry squads the most viable choice. Generalization leads to wasting firepower at targets the guns were not meant to deal with.

You should have an even better reason for giving an infantry squad less than a heavy weapon and a special weapon. Most of the heavy and special weapons give you excellent additional firepower at a very reasonable price. So reasonable in fact that it's almost criminal not to take them.

I personally consider my lasguns more as an afterthought to the firing of the squad's heavy and special weapon than anything else. Count on your heavies and specials to kill the enemy; use your lasguns to see if you can add another kill to your squad's shooting. Massed lasgun fire is great, but only when there's a heavy and special weapon for every 8 or so lasguns."

A Word on Doctrines:

This section isn't meant to be a rundown of every doctrine in the codex.  Remember that doctrines are there to give your army background and character, and to make your army fit your fluff.  They aren't really meant to be abused and powergamed-with.  That said, I'll talk about a few of the most popular doctrines and their effects.

Close-Order Drill:

It's free.  It adds to your leadership and initiative.  This is probably one of the most popular (and most abused) doctrines, and one that is very fitting for Mordian/Praetorian style armies.  It's certainly a very good doctrine; combined with Veteran Sergeants, your squads can each have a leadership equivalent to that of an HSO.  The obvious weakness is that in close order, you are vulnerable to ordnance and template weapons.  Remember that you don't always have to be in close order!  If your opponent has lots of pie plates/flamers, don't be afraid to spread out.

Hardened Fighters:

This doctrine may seem appealing, as it improves upon the Guard's great weakness, close combat.  However, you're paying a lot of points to give your squads a small boost in CC.  Also, your infantry squads really can't take many options to give them punch in combat anyway.  If you're taking it, I'd forgo using them on infantry squads and use it on Hardened Vets or Command squads, where you can at least get some power weaponry.


It's been mathematically proven that taking Sharpshooters in infantry squads is not worth the points.  You'd be better off spending the points on another infantry squad.  I'd save it for heavy weapon squads, where Sharpshooters does provide a small benefit, pointswise.


This is another popular doctrine, especially for new commanders.  Like Sharpshooters, it's usually better to forgo the doctrine and use the points to buy more infantry squads.  Remember that your infantry squads are expendable, so why pay a lot of points (since you have to give it to every Guard Infantry unit) to protect them?

Iron Discipline:

Though this is not an upgrade for your infantry squads, giving ID to your officers will help them to hold your Infantry Squads and rally them.  It's very cheap, and can come in very handy when your decimated infantry squads are fleeing for their lives.

I find that from a pure gaming perspective, the only doctrines that really give your Infantry Squads a large benefit are Close Order Drill and Iron Discipline.  However, please don't look at doctrines from a pure gaming perspective.  First and foremost, be loyal to your fluff.  So don't feel that you have to take COD or ID, or that you should shun any other doctrines.

Thoughts on Infantry Squads in Other Styles of IG

I said at the beginning of this article that this is a guide for using infantry squads in standard shooty Imperial Guard armies.  This is still true; I don't have as much experience with other styles of IG, so take what I say with a grain of salt.  However, I feel I should at least throw out some thoughts on other styles of Guard.  This is by no means a tactica on other styles, just my opinions on what to give your squads.

Light Infantry:  

Although you can get closer to the enemy, your infantry squads are still geared towards shooting!  Remember this; I believe that it's still a good idea to take both heavy and special weapons in most, if not all, of your squads.  Don't go for sniper rifles, as a single sniper isn't all too effective.  Use infiltration to set up good firing positions for your forces, and to get into cover.  In this type of army flamers and meltaguns become more viable, but I'd still have the majority of my squads stick with plasmaguns and grenade launchers.

Drop Troops:

Somewhat similar to Light Infantry, but even more in-your-face.  Remember that your army is arriving piecemeal; I suggest using veteran sergeants in your squads for the leadership boost.  Meltaguns and Flamers are viable special weapons choices.  You may want to go lighter on the lascannons in your squads, as your meltaguns can make short work of most vehicles and other weapons, like plasmaguns and autocannons, can be devastating to tanks when you fire at the side/rear armor.  However, I'd still take a few lascannons.


The Mechanized Infantry maxim is that your Chimeras take out enemy infantry with their many multishot weapons while your infantry worry about enemy tanks.  To that end your squads should have lascannons an plasmaguns.  Keep a few squads ready to mount up and zoom to a table corner/objective near the end of the game.

And that's my short guide to using the lowly infantry squad.  Hopefully this will help you better your game somewhat.  Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

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